Glendale mother, boyfriend accused in child abuse death of 1-year-old boy

Feb 12, 2024, 6:00 PM | Updated: 6:18 pm

Francisco Javier Felix-Higuera, left, and Maria Isabel Machado-Perez, right, were accused in the ch...

Francisco Javier Felix-Higuera, left, and Maria Isabel Machado-Perez, right, were accused in the child abuse death of her 1-year-old boy on Feb. 8, 2024. (Glendale Police Photos)

(Glendale Police Photos)

PHOENIX — A Glendale mother and her boyfriend were accused in the child abuse death of her 1-year-old boy on Thursday, authorities said.

Francisco Javier Felix-Higuera was charged with first-degree murder after allegedly repeatedly abusing the boy, including on the day of the child’s death, according to arrest documents. Felix-Higuera and the boy’s mother, Maria Isabel Machado-Perez, also face child abuse charges.

How were Glendale police alerted of the 1-year-old’s health issues?

The Glendale Police Department received a call from Machado-Perez at about 6:40 p.m. on Thursday stating she and Felix-Higuera needed an ambulance, arrest documents said.

Dispatchers struggled to understand Machado-Perez because of a language barrier, but when officers located the couple at a CVS at 75th Avenue and Bethany Home Road five minutes later, they found the boy not breathing. Officers at the scene noted the boy had bruising across his body, including on his face, chest, arms, legs and back.

The boy was taken to a hospital for treatment but was pronounced dead around 7:15 p.m.

What happened on the day of the Glendale victim’s death?

Both suspects initially told police they had never abused the child, but autopsy results confirmed that the child had sustained “significant injuries” just hours before his death.

Felix-Higuera told police that he had taken the victim and a 6-month-old child he had with Machado-Perez to a nearby park that day because the victim’s health was poor.

While at the park, Felix-Higuera said the victim fell on his face and was “lethargic,” according to arrest documents. Felix-Higuera then took the children to his vehicle to leave, but the victim ripped off his diaper while scratching it due to a rash, according to arrest documents. The scratching caused a mess and Felix-Higuera said he threw the child from a height of about four feet after returning home, arrest documents said.

When Felix-Higuera cleaned up the mess after returning home, the child started vomiting uncontrollably and struggled to breathe, according to arrest documents.

Felix-Higuera then called Machado-Perez, who was at work, and repeatedly asked her to return home and care for the child. When Machado-Perez returned home, she called 911 and took the victim to the nearby CVS.

The autopsy revealed the boy died mainly due to a laceration to his liver and a detached bowel. The injuries caused the victim to bleed internally until he died. The timeframe of the onset of the injuries was consistent with the boy being in Felix-Higuera’s care.

How long were the suspects accused of abusing the boy prior to his death?

Machado-Perez said the boy was bruised after sustaining injuries in a hit-and-run car accident outside of the residence the family was staying at about two weeks earlier. She added that she didn’t go to police at the time of the alleged incident because the child wasn’t secured in the vehicle. Felix-Higuera’s account of the incident was inconsistent with Machado-Perez’s.

Both suspects added that the child had also previously been injured in various ways, including slipping in the shower and falling constantly while attempting to stand.

Machado-Perez initially denied that Felix-Higuera, who wasn’t the boy’s biological father, had beaten the child with a belt but changed her story after Felix-Higuera admitted to doing so, according to arrest documents.

The victim was disciplined by Felix-Higuera by placing the boy in the corner of a room to look at a wall for 20-30 minutes, arrest documents said.

What’s next for the suspects?

Both suspects received a cash bond in the case. Felix-Higuera’s was set for $1.5 million and Machado-Perez’s was set for $500,000.

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Glendale mother, boyfriend accused in child abuse death of 1-year-old boy